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The BMW M5 is one of those automotive legends that has gone on to ascertain an complete sub-set of cars. The angle of a mid-sized alehouse car with supercar rivalling achievement is as accustomed today as a simple hot hatch, but there was a time aback the supersaloon was an alien entity.

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The E28 BMW 5-series, appear in 1981, was BMW’s advance controlling saloon. Advised by the iconic BMW artist Claus Luthe, the E28 was initially awash with a aggregate of about chastened four and six-cylinder engines, but in 1984 BMW appear the actual aboriginal M5 at the Amsterdam motor show. The M5 was not the aboriginal ‘sporty’ 5-series – that would be the beneath able M535i – but the M5 differed over its beneath attenuate affinity not alone by bathrobe bottomward its beheld attire, but utilising the M88 straight-six engine, the actual one that fabricated its admission on BMW’s aboriginal supercar, the M1.

> Click actuality for all you charge to apperceive about the all-new F90 BMW M5

Based on the M49 motorsport agent acclimated abroad in BMW’s motorsport division, the M88 gave the attenuate attractive M5 alehouse 278bhp, added than a abreast Ferrari 328 at the time. The M5 was devastatingly quick and developed a acceptability amidst its able-bodied to do barter about its arduous across of ability. The M5 and its consecutive breed bound developed a acceptability for actuality the best able cars on sale. The M5 was big-ticket though, acknowledgment why the it never awash in massive numbers. 

Since then, the M5 has acquired into the latest F90 bearing alehouse – the aboriginal with all-wheel-drive and a torque advocate automated gearbox. The accepting of ridiculously able alehouse car has now appear abounding circle, with cars like this now actuality no added attenuate than a sports or supercar. It may accept absent some of its Q-car appeal, but the M5 was and still charcoal one of the best complete cars you can buy today.

The M5’s greatest asset is the M88/3 engine. Initially advised for use in the BMW M1 supercar, the M88 was carefully accompanying to the agent for use in Group 5 antagonism area it produced upwards of 887bhp. For the M5, BMW’s M analysis swapped the M1’s Kugelfisher ammunition bang arrangement for a Bosch Motronic system, convalescent on the ability achievement apparent in the M1 by 10bhp. The M5’s final abstracts were 278bhp at 6500rpm, while torque was rated at 251lb ft. These numbers may complete acquiescent compared to supersaloons of today, but the M5 was added able than the abreast Ferrari 328 and its Tipo V8 engine.

The BMW M5’s abracadabra was not aloof independent to the agent bay as the M Analysis additionally paid abutting absorption to the chassis, uprating the anti-roll bars, applicable Bilstein springs and dampers (until 1986) and applicable an LSD to accommodate the ample dispatch in ability the M5 had over its beneath illustrious siblings. These upgrades appropriately bigger the M5’s handling, but actuality conceived in the 1980s you would still be abashed by how bendable it feels by avant-garde standards.

Today the E28 BMW M5 doesn’t represent absolutely the arrangement it was in contempo times. With prices amphibian at £40k for well-used models, absolutely adequate cars can aback abutting to six-figures at auction. Whether the M5 is account that money is up to you, but the absoluteness is that the M5 not alone represents the agent of a species, but a active acquaintance that is absolutely special.

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We capital to appropriately acquaintance the E28 M5 for ourselves in a avant-garde context. Underneath is our abounding annual affection on BMW’s aboriginal supersaloon accounting by Henry Catchpole

There is a dark, hardly 
musty-smelling allowance bench in the evo offices. We alarm it the library. As you would expect, there is a apparent alternative of adorable volumes on capacity alignment from Abarth to Zanardi and with arresting titles like Tiff Gear. There is additionally a alternative of old camera equipment, some wellingtons, at atomic two tyres, three bindle shelves of ambiguous origin, a brazier and a blah blast that is affiliated but never rings.

But the acumen I usually end up whiling abroad hours in this paper-lined cavern of a allowance is not the books, but the aback archive of magazines. Affair aloft affair of appellation afterwards appellation agency you can get absent amidst millions of words, photos and adverts from yesteryear. If you’re attractive for aboriginal reviews of article a bit old afresh you can acquisition yourself acceptable gradually absorbed in an absolutely altered era, marvelling at angular tyre sizes and Nigel Mansell’s moustache. You assuredly appear hours later, blinking into the aurora and activity like you’ve aloof stepped out of a time machine.

> Click actuality for our analysis of the F10 BMW M5

I went through this accomplished action a brace of canicule ago, and afterwards award and digesting the abreast reviews of the BMW E28 M5, I was larboard hardly bemused. As able-bodied as a acrimonious charge to rewind a cassette with a pencil, I came abroad with the cutting consequence that, aback in the mid-1980s, the M5 wasn’t absolutely heralded as the band hero I absurd it had been. A lot of the things that I’m about to sing the praises of over these abutting few pages were acutely accepted at the time, but there wasn’t absolutely the eulogising alarum that I’d accepted would accost the aboriginal archetypal in what is now a admired dynasty.

It alone got two pages in Car, and although Autocar managed four, a Daihatsu Domino got seven pages in the aforementioned issue. Everyone admired and admired the M5, but aloof didn’t see it as a watershed in automotive history. The problem, it seems, was the price. Although the aboriginal M5 had a faintly antic 282bhp at a time aback a Ferrari 328 could alone aggregation 270, 
the BMW additionally bulk £31,295 at a time aback the Ferrari could be castigation for £34,750…

Then there was the block that you were advantageous a lot of money for a car that looked no added aggressive than a agilely above 520i. Obviously, aback I airing into 4 Brilliant Classics’ exhibit and see this Zinnobar Red M5, endemic by Steve Wright, I instantly anticipate that it looks fantastically understated. That angular, attenuate snout, the UK-spec 16in cross-spoke alloys, the distinctive, boxlike glasshouse – it’s a alive wolf in sheep’s clothing. Indeed, affluence of ’80s alley testers admired the ultimate Q-car attending too, but if you were a buck in 1986, I brainstorm the show-off, £19,985 M535i with its aero kit (a actual rarely specced advantage on the M5) was the added exciting-looking machine. In some agency it’s not absolutely hasty that the M5 wasn’t a awning star, but with the account of hindsight it seems crazy.

I’ve capital to appropriately drive an E28 anytime aback I had a abrupt go in one during our ‘Greatest-ever M-car’ analysis in 2007 (evo 110). I can bethink a wet roundabout, but that’s about it. Aloof accepting into an E28 M5 today is a appropriate acquaintance for abounding reasons. As I’m a adolescent of the ’80s, there’s a lot about the autogenous that dredges up long-forgotten memories. The agleam accoutrement and breakable plastics, the ancient bounce to the seats and the aroma all affect nostalgia. You sit decidedly aeriform and upright, and the B-pillar seems actual abutting aback you ability for the bench belt. The electric bench buttons abutting to the barbate handbrake gaiter are a assignment of art, though.

Just like the outside, there are actual few break that you’re accepting adequate central a car hand-built by BMW’s motorsport department. A beam of tricolour on the basal batten of the council caster here, a birr of stripes set into the seats there, all topped off by an ‘M’ at the basal of the rev adverse area bottom models had an mpg gauge. The basal architectonics of the birr feels so actual driver-focused, however, that it ability accept been advised accurately for an M-car, with the centre animate angled acquiescently appear the disciplinarian and absolutely abstention the passenger.

Turn the simple key in the cavalcade and the amateur motor spins aloof continued abundant to accomplish you admiration if it’s activity to bolt at all. A bit of theatre care to be expected, though. You are starting a supercar engine, afterwards all. This 24-valve, 3.5-litre ‘M88’ motor, originally advised for the M1, is an complete peach. Actuality it has a wet sump as able-bodied as altered pistons and conrods, while its Bosch Motronic ammunition bang was advanced at the time. Six butterfly throttles beggarly that every blow of the floor-hinged accelerator pedal elicits an burning reaction, giving you a absurd activity of affiliation to the motorsport powertrain. There was additionally a catalysed adaptation of this engine, appointed S38 and bearing a hardly lowlier 256bhp, but you can acquaint at a glance which agent is beneath the bonnet: the full-fat motor aloof has a BMW roundel and ‘M Power’ accounting on the valve awning while the S38 carries the fable ‘BMW M Power’.

4 Brilliant Classics is based bottomward in Surrey, about on the doorstep of area I grew up, so this is a able cruise bottomward anamnesis lane (albeit a rather backing and blurred one). The about-face of the five-speed Getrag ’box is phenomenally continued and there’s added than a little baggy in the aboideau if you accord the mushroom-topped batten a waggle. Yet somehow it still feels precise, with the stick actuality sucked into anniversary arrangement in a abnormally recognisable BMW fashion. It agency you accept to booty time over anniversary shift, cerebration a little added bottomward the alley and acute your changes, but it’s abundantly concrete to accomplish it agreeable rather than frustrating.

Today the dispatch feels active rather than blistering, but an in-period recorded 0-62mph time of 6.0sec (against a claimed of 6.2) is annihilation to be sniffed at, and a 0-100mph time of aloof over 15sec is absolutely absolutely stunning. This car has done 173,000 afar but still revs amazingly sweetly past 6000rpm and, as you’d expect, pulls hardest appear the top end. The soundtrack morphs from a deep, able accomplishments blubbering abreast idle, acrimonious up a college beef as the revs dispatch until you get that characteristic abrasion straight-six accentuation from the bankrupt aloof afore you charge to change gear.

But to be honest, the M5 is altogether blessed canoeing in fifth and relying on the adaptability of its straight-six to accomplish quick but actual appropriate progress. It’s so civilised that you about abort to realise how fast you’re accoutrement ground; it aloof stealthily eats up the afar and would be a affably airy way to cantankerous a country. As we ambit alluringly forth a decrepit area of bifold carriageway, I can’t advice but about-face the radio on. Not to accept to anything: aloof so that I can watch in the aperture mirror as the telescopic silver baton of an aeriform rises majestically out of the rear wing.

We’re branch to a area of alley in the Surrey Hills that I apperceive well, a area that’s not absolutely as attenuated as best and with a appropriate breeze to the way it picks a band amid the beeches and oaks. Afore we alike get there, I apperceive it’s activity to be fun. Coming off an empty, sopping-wet roundabout, I can’t advice but acquisition out what happens with a bit added commitment. The acknowledgment is that the adenoids reacts agreeably and the rear accomplish out beneath the best bashful bulk of provocation. Afresh the accomplished car stabilises calmly with the LSD locked, so that you can artlessly authority the accelerate all the way off the roundabout, adequate the moment until you appetite to affluence the burke a atom and wind off the lock. It’s all announced so clearly that it aloof makes you appetite to do it afresh and again. Brilliant.

Unlike the E30 M3, which has a defended rear-end and drives about like a able-bodied accoutrement front-wheel-drive car, the E28 M5 is rear-wheel drive and appreciative of it. Although the M5 does assume like a continued car, the breadth feels like it’s all abaft you appear the cossack (where, incidentally, BMW repositioned the battery) because the advanced auto are so accessible to abode into a corner. The altogether abounding ability council is abnormally acceptable already you’re aloof off the straight-ahead, loading up through the thin, three-spoke council caster so that you feel instantly defended in the band that you’ve picked. Afresh it’s aloof a case of alive with the alluringly authentic burke to neatly acclimatize your line. It never feels like a baby car, but you don’t accept to cajole it; you aloof cilia it 
quickly bottomward a attenuated alley after actuality bedfast by its size. Taut and absolute is how I’d alarm its handling, which if I’m honest, comes as article of a surprise.

The M5’s dampers were fabricated by Bilstein until aboriginal in 1986 aback they were ditched for Boge items, with the admeasurement of the advanced and rear anti-roll confined accompanying increased. This 1987 car I’m active absolutely rides with aplomb, accomplishing article that assemblage cars strive for by assimilation up the big bumps with a appropriate bulk of adaptable travel, yet never wallowing and consistently advancement a firmer ride over the surface’s abate imperfections. It’s a actual able ambush to comedy and agency that you consistently feel carefully affiliated to the alley after any abhorrence of actuality airy off it.

The brakes, as you ability expect, are conceivably the alone anemic point. Although they don’t feel as bad as those of some cars of this age, they’re not absolutely in admeasurement to the backbone of the agent and I wouldn’t adorned aptitude the car’s 1431kg kerb weight on them too adamantine too often. It would be accessible to get agitated abroad and do aloof that, though, because the M5 is artlessly so agreeable and fun to drive. Sometimes earlier cars are admirable to drive for the allegory experience, but ultimately alone serve as a appropriate admonition of how far we’ve appear since. But with the E28, I acquisition that as the hours beat by I artlessly appetite to accomplish a beeline for Wales or Scotland (a adventure that would no agnosticism be effortless) and afresh comedy with it on my favourite stretches of road. Suddenly a day doesn’t assume about continued enough…

Today, a Ferrari 328 will set you aback alert as abundant as an M5, yet there were alone 187 right-hand-drive European-spec M5s anytime built, so this is a absolutely attenuate beast. It ability not accept the antagonism ancestry of the E30 M3 (although it’s able-bodied account attractive up footage of Tony Viana antagonism a adapted E28 at Kyalami in South Africa), but it was still hand-built by BMW Motorsport in Garching and has an M1 motor in it, which is appealing cool. What’s more, it absolutely kicked off the supersaloon ability war that is still angry today amid M5s, Mercedes AMG E-classes and Audi RS6s. So although magazines ability not accept absolutely grasped the 
brilliance of the blueprint at the time, the acceptation of this car has developed and developed with age.

It’s an iconic allotment of history. And a allotment that aloof happens to be a huge bulk of fun to drive, too.

Many acknowledgment to Steve Wright for absolution us use his M5. Adjoin his bigger judgement, it’s currently for bargain at 4 Brilliant Classics (along with a lot of added rather adorable things). Visit 4starclassics.com or alarm 01483 274347.

Henry Catchpole

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